THERE IS A DIFFERENCE

 

By A. E. WILSON.

 

Since the days of Calvin and Arminius, there has been a constant debate in regard to the standing of Christians who sin. Calvin rightly contended that [eternal] salvation is by grace, and nothing can destroy the believer's relationship with the Lord. Arminius and his followers, noting many Scriptures which speak of a sinning Christian being called into a personal accounting because of his [wilful] sins, err in attributing to the sinning Christian a loss of his [eternal] salvation. Calvin and his followers have gone to one extreme in teaching that a Christian is not accountable for his sins because they are all under the blood, and that it makes no difference how one lives. The Arminians have gone to the other extreme and damned to hell* any Christian who sins. These two current systems of theology have caused many thoughtful Christians to ask the question: Is there any difference between a God-fearing, Christ-honouring, Spirit-led Christian, and one who is carnally-minded, worldly ambitious and self-pleasing?

 

[* That is, The lake of fire the eternal state of the lost after resurrection.]

 

Some have gone so far away from the Scripture as to contend that if an individual sins after his confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, this is evidence that he has not been saved. Such contention is not true because I Cor. 3:12-15, Eph. 2:8-9, and other similar passages, teach conclusively that works do not enter into [eternal] salvation and that it is possible for an individual to be [eternally] saved and not have a single good work to his credit.*

 

[* That is, a death-bed salvation.]

 

The Word of God teaches that there is a difference between Christians. The designation in the Word of God reveals a three-fold classification of mankind: The unsaved, called the natural man, and the saved, which are divided into two groups - the spiritual and the carnal. There is no gainsaying this fact. The carnal man is a Christian dominated by his carnal life, but that he is a Christian is unequivocally set forth in 1 Cor. 3:1-4. We can dig back into the Old Testament for a classic example: Abraham, representative of the spiritual Christian, and Lot, representing the carnal Christian. Were it not for the statement in 2 Pet. 2:7, 8, we would not know by the life he lived that Lot was a saved man. He was [eternally] saved, but all of his works were destroyed.

 

One of the most poignant truths in the Word of God is that Christians must render an account unto the Lord for the deeds done in the flesh. This is such a repulsive doctrine to many Christians that often the one proclaiming this truth loses friends. But God's truth must be proclaimed whether man receives it or not. 2 Cor. 5:10, shows the place of judgment of the Christian's works and reveals the terror of the Lord against those who have been found wanting in the way of a consecrated life. By direct statement, parable, type and symbol, the Holy Spirit has set forth in the Word from Genesis to Revelation the truth that faithful Christians will be rewarded and unfaithful Christians shall suffer loss. For instance, consider briefly Luke 19:11-27. Here our Lord shows that in the days of His absence His business has been committed into the hands of His servants. When He returns, the servants shall be called before Him to render an account of their faithfulness. One is given authority over ten cities during the millennial reign another is given authority over five cities, while the unfaithful one has no authority whatsoever during the Kingdom; however, the fact remains that he is a servant of the Lord and his [eternal] salvation is secure, though there is no place of reigning which would give him honour and glory. Those who refuse to accept the Lord are brought before Him and slain in His presence.

 

David's experience in the wilderness reveals that many of the men associated with him, because of their faithfulness to him in his exile, were given places of honour when he established his kingdom. Many others, because of their unfaithfulness, though still in his kingdom, had no place of rulership.

 

Our reigning with the Lord is contingent upon our suffering with Him. Read 2 Tim. 2:12 and Matt 20: 20-23. You will note in the latter portion of these verses that the position in the Kingdom is up to the Father and it is on the basis of works.

 

In conclusion, forget not this truth: [Eternal] Salvation is by grace, and rewards are on the basis of works. The thousand-year reign of Christ is a period of time in which rewards to the faithful will be manifest as well as loss and suffering to the unfaithful.

 

-------